Creative Writing: EGL 225

About the Course

EGL 225:  Creative Writing
This course is a lower-division, general education area C1 (arts), and is taken by students across the majors at our specialized maritime university. Most students will take EGL 225 to satisfy their general education requirement, but some take it for fun if they have space in their schedules.
EGL 225 is an introduction to creative writing, with an emphasis on style and self-expression in prose and poetry. Through a combination of lecture, small class discussions, and intensive workshops, students will develop the elements of their own literary practice.

Learning or student outcomes: 

1. Identify and define key literary terms studied in the course.
2. Read and analyze creative writing texts in multiple genres.
3. Produce creative writing texts in multiple genres.

Key challenges faced and how resolved: Syllabus and/or Sample assignment from the course or the adoption [optional]: I pasted links to the OER sites, not the textbook URLs, by accident, on my class webpage at the beginning of the semester.  Students expected the links to take them directly to the text, not to a search window; sometimes, that extra step annoyed or confused them.  I fixed that quickly, but we lost a bit of precious discussion time at first.  Also, not being able or not wanting to annotate their online readings made it hard for students to remember important details from a story or poem during discussion.   I did not assign reading quizzes for this class, so there were no consequences for skimming or even outright ignoring a reading assignment.  I will incorporate reading quizzes and annotation freeware into the next iteration of this course. 

About the Resource/Textbook 

OER/Low-cost Title: 

Brief Description: I converted all of my required reading to OER e-book resources
Student access:  Links to all texts for EGL 225 are located on my personal website:  

Texts resourced:  
Naming the Unnameable:  An Approach to Poetry for New Generations, Michele Bonczek Evory, Open Suny Textbooks

Vanguard:  Exercises for the Creative Writing Classroom, Bailey, Simonian & Smith, Texas Tech University Libraries

Teaching Autoethnography:  Personal Writing in the Classroom, Melissa Tombro, Open SUNY 

Cost Savings: Over two semesters, I taught a total of 50 creative writing students. By using OER textbooks, I saved each student from having to purchase $111.45 in textbooks, for a grand total of $5,572.50 in savings for the academic year.
By eliminating the cost of textbooks, OERs support learners from all backgrounds…as long as they have access to the internet. To help, the CSUMA campus library has made laptops and internet hotspots available to students who need them. Together, hopefully, we won’t leave anyone behind.

OER/Low Cost Adoption

OER/Low Cost Adoption Process

This course exposes students to a wide variety of poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction. As most high-quality creative writing textbooks focus on just one genre, in the past, I would require students to buy at least two textbooks. Getting students to actually buy any texts for a course outside of their major, however, was always a challenge. Often, students would share books, but then would fail to arrange to exchange them in time to complete assignments. More often, students would try to find the stories I’d assigned on the internet, rather than purchase the textbooks, but they wouldn’t have access to the analysis the textbooks contained. I found myself constantly having to reiterate this material during class time, which took time away from writing exercises and workshops. Using Open Educational Resources allowed me to assign chapters or sections from different texts or web material…even on the fly. I was also able to give students a choice of writing prompts from different OER sources: they could use whichever prompt they related to, or fit their needs the best.

Describe effects on teaching and learning that resulted from adopting OER.

Moving to a totally online platform during the pandemic changed everything about my teaching, so it’s difficult to tell exactly what influence OER had.  However, not having to order books ensured that students had all of the materials needed for the course on the first day of class.  This was great, as I’ve always struggled with students who don’t buy the assigned texts on time.  Also, since students are always plugged into their devices, their reading assignments are never too far away.  In a pinch, students could access the reading materials on their phones if they needed to. 

Through using internet resources, including the OER materials, creative writing students are able to see how rich and extensive is the world of contemporary poetry, fiction writing and memoir.  I felt so free in pulling both exercises and readings from these works, sometimes spontaneously, and building a permanent archive of resources on my website. 

How did you find and select the open textbook for this course? Kitty Luce, ALS Coordinator and Instructional Librarian on our campus, carried the banner for OER resources on our small campus, and I followed along. She provided CSUMA faculty with links that were extremely helpful. I also browsed OER sites like Merlot for materials. Interestingly enough, I was also able to take advantage of a vastly expanded e-book catalog on our campus’s library website.

Sharing Best Practices: I hope that by making my website public, rather than locking it behind a private intranet, anyone interested can see what’s possible with Open Educational Resources.  I invite anyone interested in OER to visit  

About the Instructor

Dr. Julie Chisholm  

Professor of Culture & Communication, California State University, Maritime Academy

I'm a third-generation Californian from the South Bay Area.  I live in the Santa Cruz Mountains with my husband and twin daughters.   

Courses I teach include: Introduction to Composition, Critical Thinking, Advanced Writing, Ethics, Creative Writing.